OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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August 6, 2012

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What’s right and what’s wrong about Coursera-style MOOCs
Tony Bates, online learning & distance education resources, August 6, 2012.

Tony Bates summarizes and criticizes the vision of MOOCs as illustrated in this TED video by Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller. I think Bates makes some good points, but also misses a bit. Here's the good point: the myth that MOOCs (as offered by Stanford and MIT) increase access to education. As Bates notes, first, large online universities are already opening access at least as much as these MOOCs are, and second, these MOOCs are not actually granting credentials. But there is a miss, and this is it: the need to ignite a student's creativity "requires the presence of a teacher, either in the class or online." First of all, none of these MOOCs is without a teacher, though in the Coursera MOOCs the teacher is somewhat distant. But second, what makes the Canadian-style MOOCs scalable is that teaching presence isn't generated by direct teacher-to-student interactions, but rather, by (mostly) student-to-student interactions. The model offered by c-MOOCs isn't "sitting at the foot of the master", it's more akin to a self-organizing community of inquiry.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Interaction, Video, Canada]

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The “Immeasurable” Part 2
Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed, August 5, 2012.

This is the second part (first part here) of a post written on the subject of immeasurable aspects of an education. In this post, Will Richardson graphs various traits - creativity, networking, entrepreneurial thinking - according to their importance and difficulty to measure. The graph, though, is entirely subjective - there are no units, nor any hint of what would be a unit (perhaps Richardson is just being ironic, given the topic of this post - but perhaps not). And the items listed are not all things that ought to be candidates for assessment at all. Will I grant that the most important elements of an education are also the hardest to measure? No, I don't think so - some things that are really important (the student made it through the day without being killed) are pretty easy to measure, while some pretty insignificant things (the student is sensitive to the feelings of plants in the next room) are impossible to measure. But it's still worth talking about.

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

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Personalization and Responsibility
David Truss, Connected Principals, August 1, 2012.

There's a lot going on in this post, and I haven't even commented on George Siemens's 'duplication theory of educational value' that he posted last year. Now the 'duplication theory' is simply a restatement of the older idea that economic value will be based on personalized services, rather than the reproduction of stuff. David Truss draws out of Siemens the adage that "educators add value to the learning process by personalizing the feedback and guidance provided to the learner." Where I want to go with this is to blow up the entire usage of economics vocabulary to describe educational practice. This, from Truss, is closer to what I like to see: "educators openly sharing in learning communities, create an environment where teachers are learners, and they model what they want from students." I want to think of education using a vocabulary of creating, shaping, discovering, sharing, imagining and adapting, not one of owning, selling, earning, adding, collaborating, or marketing.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Learning Communities, Connectivism, Personalization, Marketing, Online Learning Communities, Online Learning]

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How does higher education funding relate to teaching quality?
Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, August 1, 2012.

This chart is pretty interesting - if it has any validity at all (proper lables would help) it indicates a correlation between funding and student achievement. So is the concept of a 'computational freakonomics' course (alternative title: 'algorithms of pseudoscience'? Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but I still don't think universities should offer degrees in economics until it's shown to be something more than flim-flammery and voodoo, and the same goes double for 'freakonomics'. All of that said, I can't help but think that once "the Guardian’s impressive open data journalism site" is integrated into online courses we'll see something new in the field of learning online.

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

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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