OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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March 26, 2012

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Managerialism and Its Discontents
Rob Watson, weblog, March 26, 2012.

A note of caution in this review of book 'Confronting Managerialism' (Zed Books, 2011, Robert Locke and J-C Spender) to those investing in learning analytics: the same discipline failed utterly in economics. "At bottom, the attempt to turn management into a positivist science seems to have misfired. It might have won Nobel Prizes for professors and set them to work on mounds of research, published in academic journals and taught in MBA classrooms, but from a management point of view so much investment in the creation of a positivist management science in business schools has not, to use their jargon, been 'cost effective'." The post has echoes of Lanier and Curtis, but also sounds the same sort of warning as a Greg Smith. Losing yourself in the numbers does not create anonymity, does not devolve one of responsibility, and does not produce efficacy or efficiency. It becomes a game, in which financiers win, and everyone else loses. So - caution. Related, from Audrey Watters: Kickboard - a data dashboard for teachers. Never forget that day Johnny had the sniffles and reacted angrily to Angela.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Books, Research, Academic Journals, Academia, Academic Publications]

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The Ultimate Hack: Re-coding Textbooks and Other Learning Content (Introduction)
Rob Reynolds, e-Literate, March 26, 2012.

"Radical change is inevitable for the modern textbook," writes Rob Reynolds, and it's impossible to disagree. Once you've made that change to digital, the limitations imposed by the paper model - whether based in paper economics, the physical form of paper, or just custom and habit - no longer make sense. Gradually at first and with increasing rapidity we move away from the old form. "After all, when it comes to learning content we are all potential hackers. We all have access to the ultimate coding language – the written word – and each of us knows the basics of this language well enough to create powerful learning products with it." I'm looking forward to Rob Reynolds's 'book'.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Hackers]

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MOOC Synthesizer
University Diaries, Inside Higher Ed, March 26, 2012.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Thres, Part Four) Here we have more MOOC stuff at the Faculty Project - you can sign up for Modern China, The Economics of Energy and the Environment, Poetry and more, all hosted by Udemy. 'University Diaries', authored by an unnamed literatire professor (though not that unnamed, as the course is identified as being authored by Margaret Soltan) describes one such course: "I'm having a blast. I like spending the week collecting material, and my thoughts, for the next lecture. I like the way a MOOC allows me to distill my responses to poetry in a new way, with a new freedom. As the lectures take shape, I see my understandings of poetry form a comprehensive argument about the genre that I'd never before pulled together." But - she concludes - it's only outreach. Well, maybe - but it won't be long before her hobby becomes her life. I've seen it happen before.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Project Based Learning, Push versus Pull, China]

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Re-coding the Curriculum and Our Learning Content
Rob Reynolds, The Learning Life, March 26, 2012.

files/images/bigdata.jpg, size: 10963 bytes, type:  image/jpeg When thinking about learning content, think about this "about Gil Elbaz, the founder of Factual, and his goal of identifying and cataloging every fact in the world." How much data is that? 800,000 restaurants, half a billion web pages, 1.8 million American health care professionals, 14,000 wine grape varietals - and so much more. And changing every day. Rob Reynolds asks, "How can our "static" learning materials compete with that type of dynamic information on a big data scale? Even more important, how can we possibly equate learning with information absorption in a world where information, by definition, is more than we could ever master?" Content has to change, from something we learn, to something we use. See also Audrey Wattres, The Ed-Tech MacGuffin (and my reply, in the comments).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: United States, Online Learning]

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One-on-one online tutoring at $28 an hour
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, March 26, 2012.

files/images/Tutor-397x600.jpg, size: 55437 bytes, type:  image/jpeg So what kind of money will be made in the education of the future? If you're thinking one-to-one services will be where the big money is, think again. "Students may prepay for a plan or purchase tutoring by the hour at $27.99 per hour. In addition, the tutoring sessions are recorded and archived, allowing students to revisit previous sessions at no additional cost from their personalized video archive." That's the best-case; Tony Bates remarks "So $28 an hour seems a high price for individual online tutoring for school kids, especially when you can get the Khan Academy for free." Of the $28 per hour, some of this goes to the tutor, and a good chunk goes to the company for advertising, host services and account management. If anyone's getting rich, it's the person managing massive tutor farms with thousands of tutors. Nice picture.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Personalization, Video, Marketing, Online Learning]

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The Future of Academic Libraries, An Interview with Steven J Bell
Paul Zenke, Education Futures, March 26, 2012.

For scenario-based futurism, but a good read nonetheless. The first scenario is that massive open online courses would have no need for libraries at all, as people can always get their resources elsewhere. The second scenario is that unbundled academic libraries might offer specialized services to students. Academic libraries would serve a number of communities, possibly on a fee-for-service basis. Clearly Steven J. Bell is favouring the second scenario in this interpretation - but that's one of the dangers of these scenarios. They are aspirational. I know that having a vision is an important part of planning for the future, but the future does not become so just because we wish it. "College students are spending on average $1,100 a year on books and supplies." Now imagine the world of the bookstore and library where they spend, oh I don't know, 20 dollars? There's not too much fee-for-service happening there.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Academia]

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Clark Quinn, Learnlets, March 26, 2012.

Those of us who attended EdgeX 2012 in Delhi were encouraged to write a post based on the experience (I am far away from being able to do that yet) and this is Clark Quinn's. His emphasis is on the problem of scale in India. "One fact kept recurring; the scope was trying to raise 350-500 million learners. That is, the 150 million discrepancy between those two is just a rounding error – we’re talking hundreds of millions of learners!" I think most of what we do - driving to work, eating a hamburger with fries, going out for a movie - does not scale to this degree either. We need to understand this: as Gwynne Dyer wrote the other day, "it would take six Earth-like planets to sustain the present human population in the high-energy, high-consumption style that is the hallmark of the current global civilisation. Not all of the seven billion have achieved that lifestyle yet, but they all want it and most of them are going to get it." This is a recipe for the end of everything, not equity and justice. We need to rethink what we're doing, reconfigure it, not just scale it up.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Experience]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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