OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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April 27, 2012

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The Biggest Student Uprising You’ve Never Heard Of
Marc Bousquet, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2012.

I think the author has a point. "While the Quebec student strike is comparable in scale to student movements in Europe and Latin America, it is entirely unique in the context of Canada and the continental United States, which makes the absence of media coverage outside the province puzzling at best and disturbing at worst." There is a manifesto for a 'Maple Spring' (the French word for 'Maple' is 'érable', very similar in pronunciation to 'Arab') which you can find in translation on Rabble.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: European Union, United States, Canada]

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Shift Happens
David Weinberger, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2012.

Sheri Oberman recommended this article on the 50th anniversary of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I'd read it a few days ago buy passed on the link, but maybe it's worth a moment's thought. Kuhn's work wasn't seen as so incendiary at first - it was published as a monograph in the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, intended to be the defining text of the logical positivist view of the world. This is where I read it, and it stood as a bridge between my classical positivist education and my radical post-modernist education (I like to think I've preserved the best aspects of both). I prefer the earlier uncompromising Kuhn, with its inherent relativism and thesis of incommensurability between paradigms (the idea that words mean different things depending on which side of the paradigm shift you're on). As Weinberger summarizes, "All understanding is historical, and no human project escapes the characteristics of history-based humanity: fallible, limited, impure of motive, social, and always situated in a culture, a language, and a time."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Project Based Learning, Wikipedia, Paradigm Shift]

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E.O. Wilson's Life On Earth
Various Authors, E. O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, April 27, 2012.

Gary Lewis writes of "a joint effort between Apple and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation to create an introductory online biology course for middle/high school students." You can see a smple of it here (The Diversity of Life). Lewis writes, "Wilson's new general public book sounds interesting. Here's a quote from an interview with him in New Scientist: 'We have created a Star Wars civilization but we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technologies. That's dangerous.' ... His hopes? "I think we are going to find our way out of this and we are going to do it with education and science." Well, maybe. It'd be nice if this were true." It's all marketing of course, but points toward where text and media merge in the future.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Books, Apple Inc., Marketing]

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How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education
Darrell M. West, Brookings Institute, April 27, 2012.

Many of the ideas we've talked about over the years in these pages are in the process of becoming thoroughly mainstream, as evidenced by this paper on blags and games in learning from the Brookings Institute. It's about what you would expect from an arms-length report (full PDF) - it's current to 2008, it cites people that you'll recognize from the popular press, it throws in a few 'gee whiz' statements ("professors see social media as important tools for instruction"), it makes odd mistakes ("a new programming language known as Scratch"), and extols an odd conservatism ("Educators can take advantage of trusted networks to engage students and help them learn important skills and concepts" (trusted? really?)). Via Joanne Jacobs, who adds, "College students are becoming "free-range learners," concludes a new study by Glenda Morgan."

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

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Automated Essay Scoring Systems as Effective as Human Graders
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Education Research Report, April 27, 2012.

It does sort of raise a Turing test-type question for exam marking. Here is the study result: "The results demonstrated that overall, automated essay scoring was capable of producing scores similar to human scores for extended-response writing items with equal performance for both source-based and traditional writing genre." Now, is 'success' producing the same output as a human grader, or is success something else? If, for example, a teacher is supposed to be marking for content, but is instead responding subliminally to style, and the computer marks for style, and both human and computer return the same test score, is that a success? Or to put the same point another way: should we evaluate automated grading by comparing the results with human grading, or should we evaluate it based on elements we know empirically are present in the material being evaluated.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Assessment]

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Ed Radio Show Notes, April 27, 2012

More obscuranti from Ed Radio:

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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