OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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October 1, 2012

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Where Does Innovation Fit in Your Business Model?
Tim Kastelle, Innovation Leadership Network, October 1, 2012.

I'm running this item mainly for the useful diagram of business models (it goes without saying that everything must have business models today; if your dog does not have a value proposition and clearly defined customers, then your dog-food should be reconsidered). The idea is that innovation generally fits right in the middle, in the value proposition. What is that, exactly? "A value proposition is a positioning statement that describes for whom you do what uniquely well. It describes your target buyer, the problem you solve, and why you’re distinctly better than the alternatives." So what is online learning's value proposition? And why does it need one? And when we are selling education (as entailed by the logic of the value proposition) who are you selling to, and what value do they expect in return? That's what has been occupying me in my day job recently. Or I'll need to brush up my personal value proposition.

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

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The global attack on public higher education
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, October 1, 2012.

Tony Bates points to the decline in funding that it is making it increasingly difficult to sustain public education. While I have my criticisms of the university system as it exists today, and while I think that professors and administrators have not helped the cause of public education, it should be clear that the cause of the funding crisis lies outside the university system. We all, I think, know exactly what the problem is. "Banks over-extended themselves in silly, unsecured loans that drove mainly the construction industry. Now public servants such as teachers, civil servants, and health workers are being told their salaries and pensions will be cut, and there will be reduced funding for post-secondary education,  in order to pay off the massive debt the government has occurred in bailing out their banks. As Gordon Gekko, the character played by Michael Douglas says in 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps': 'This is the perfect solution: privatize the profits and nationalize the losses.'"

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To Less Efficient Startups
Anil Dash, A Blog About Making Culture, October 1, 2012.

Anil Dash, I think, gets to the heart of what's wrong with today's startup culture: "From an economics standpoint, the hugely successful tech companies of our time are marvels of efficiency because it used to take a company with hundreds of thousands of employees to generate so much market value. Unfortunately, this "progress" in efficiency means a concentration of generated wealth among an even smaller, more exclusive cabal of winners when one of these companies succeeds.

Instead of generating tens of thousands of middle-class jobs as industrial-age titans did, these companies make a few dozen people truly extraordinarily wealthy, and then give generous payouts to a few hundred people who were already on a path to success by having been privileged enough to go to top universities and by having the identities that tech and engineering cultures are biased toward today. There is effectively no blue collar path to success, notwithstanding the much-vaunted stories of tech company chefs entering these companies in the kitchen and exiting as millionaires."

The venture capitalists don't fund ideas, they fund people - and if you look at those people they elect to find, it's people like them, people who, as Dash says, went to the right schools and knew the right people.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools]

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Field Trip Automatically Alerts You to Local Places of Interest
Various Authors, Google Play, October 1, 2012.

I'm sure it's impossible to tour a city without a persopnalized in-person tour guide to help you find all the good stuff, and perform many other roles besides, but for those who neither want nor can afford such high-priced help, an application like this Android: Field Trip app will fit the bill quite nicely. Unfortunately, it won't install in Canada (and I suspect therefore that virtually all of the advice is for US-based sites). Butt you get the idea. Education in the future looks like this.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Canada]

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Online Education Grows Up, And For Now, It's Free
NPR Staff, NPR, October 1, 2012.

More stuff people are saying is impossible. "Earlier this year in Kazahkstan, 22-year-old computer science student Askhat Muzrabayev had a problem... "we didn't have [Artificial Intelligence] classes in the syllabus," Muzrabayev says. So Muzrabayev went online to Coursera and enrolled in Stanford's Machine Learning class for free. He watched the lectures, did the quizzes, joined online discussions with students from around the world and then took the final exam. He passed, and when it was over he received a certificate that said he completed an online course at Stanford. Muzrabayev used that certificate to apply for jobs; offers started to pour in. One of those offers was from Twitter, and he now works for the company in the Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty." Meanwhile, John Sener writes, "It's certainly a romanticized (some might say delusional) notion that all, or even most, MOOC participants experience 'deep and meaningful learning'... my conclusion remains that MOOCs are in fact a degraded educational experience..."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Twitter, Discussion Lists, Experience]

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A Disruption Grows Up?
Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, October 1, 2012.

I have long predicted that instruction and assessment will one day be separated, and that when this happens, the university's monopoly on instruction will be ended. This could be that day: "Southern New Hampshire University is poised to launch a $5,000 online, competency-based associate degree that would be the first to blow up the credit hour -- the connection between college credit and the time students spend learning. A regional accreditor has signed off on Southern New Hampshire’s 'direct assessment' method, and the university will soon apply for federal approval." No doubt someone will tell us this is impossible and that students need guidance and encouragement and support and all that. And they will be disproved as people start earning these degrees in the hundreds, and then the thousands.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Assessment]

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Flipping The MOOC?
Jeff Borden, Pearson Fwd, October 1, 2012.

MOOCs are coming under increasing criticism from what I would call educational traditionalists. Case in point: "I had opportunity to join a discussion group that I found purely by happenstance, with others from the class... nobody had anything of value to bring to the table.  Social learning is indeed a powerful thing, but without what Vygotsky would call the “More Knowledgeable Other” in the group, it starts to break down quickly." Now I doubt that this is actually a true story, but the point is the same as is being made by others: it's not possible to learn without a teacher - not just someone who occasionally corrects and informs, but someone who is pretty much full-time inside these student discussions. I just don't agree with that. Do you think study circles at Harvard founder just because there isn't a professor in the room? No, the proposition is absurd.

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Is This Your Camera?
Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, October 1, 2012.

Some friends of Alan Levine's found a camera on the GO train in Toronto. They could have just turned it into the Lost&Found, where it would languish in obscurity until the year 2031 or something, or they could post the photos on the internet and help the owner get them back. They made the latter choice, of course.

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The Future of 21st Century Science: Tearing Down Knowledge Silos
Dabiel Honan, Big Think, September 30, 2012.

This is what's wrong with scholarship today: the increasingly narrow focus on tiny silos of knowledge. "Artificial disciplinary boundaries were drawn, and research was put in silos that grew ever narrower... Institutional boundaries and funding incentives often discourage, rather than encourage people in different fields to collaborate." And this is what's changing today. "We are starting to see biological research come full circle again. The interdisciplinary approach both to research and learning is starting to gain favor again because people are starting to recognize the dysfunction that is often apparent in large research institutions, but also because the small and nimble research labs are proving they have a method for speeding the pace and reducing the cost of discovery."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Research]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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