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October 18, 2012

Textbooks of the future: Will you be buying a product ... or a service?
Michael Trucano, EduTech, October 18, 2012.

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Good discussion of planned investments in e-textbooks. "The World Bank is currently working with a few countries that are planning for the procurement of lots of digital learning materials," writes Michael Trucano. What we are seeing is that "many education ministries prefer to have schools accessing content from one central place that is in some way overseen by the ministry itself." It's not surprising that e-textbooks would be marketed in thsi way - if you marketed simply to teachers or students, they would be just as likely to select free and open access materials instead. Government ministries rarely take the lower-cost route. Additionally, "they are buying not a free-standing product (like they did with 'a textbook'), but rather that they are buying what is essentially a time-bound service ('access to what a textbook contains')." This changes the nature of the relationship with vendors.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Books, Online Learning, Open Access]

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Why Open Access matters
Seb Schmoller, Fortnightly Mailing, October 18, 2012.

It's interesting that my world has divided into academic philosophers writing books about ethics and such, and real-world philosophers doing stuff, like these two: "Philosopher Peter Suber has had an enormous and critical 'founding' influence on the Open Access movement. Above is an 80 minute recording of the recent launch of Peter Suber's outstanding MIT Press book 'Open Access', chaired/mediated by David Weinberger, also a philosopher." I believe that I fall into the latter camp, though some would question my credentials as a philosopher.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Wikipedia, Academia]

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Podcasting with Your #iPad
Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, October 18, 2012.

Good overview of the tools you can use to podcast from your iPad (and of course as Miguel Guhlin says, you're basically stuck with always paying for software on the iPad). It covers the production side pretty well (I'd have wanted to see a note about microphones). It needs information on where and how to upload the completed podcasts - I posted a question, which may have been answered by the time you read this.

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Could Amazon Whispercast Make School Books Obsolete?
Jason Rhode, Weblog, October 18, 2012.

Amazon has introduced something called 'WhisperCast' to schools and teachers. It's an "online tool that helps your organization easily manage its Kindles and distribute Kindle content." The major features (from my perspective) are the ability to block browser features (teachers will love that, sadly), distribute content into user groups, and most importantly, distribute content to user-owned devices such as laptops, iPads, Androids, Blackberrys, and more (presumably the blocking feature doesn't extend to these devices). The BYOD feature is especially important; it takes the form of a type of 'content gifting'. The biggest problem, so far as I can see, is that Kindle doesn't distribute free and open access content - if you're getting it through a Kindle, you're paying for it. So I think schools should consider carefully whether they want to always pay for all content in the future before locking themselves into this service.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Portable Computers, Open Access]

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xMOOCs = OCW + Cohorts
Mike Caulfield, Weblog, October 18, 2012.

If you want a nice concise definition of xMOOCs you couldn't really do better than this take by Micke Caulfield. The definition is in the title: xMOOCs = OCW + Cohorts. "The basic premise is that OCW would benefit from a cohort that could discuss the content as it is rolled out week by week via some serialization mechanism... in many cases, literally old OCW with a cohort experience wrapped around it." The key is the serialization - we've talked about this before. I haven't abandoned the idea - it would be useful for cMOOCs as well. But yeah - if you're rolling out Open CourseWare (OCW) (not to be confused with Open Educational Resources, which are not (always) attached to a particular university) to a particular cohort then you have an xMOOC.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: OpenCourseWare, Experience]

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Coursera Terms of Service (Amended)
Various Authors, Coursera, October 18, 2012.

This is funny and sad at the same time. From the Coursera license, just amended: "Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota." Via the Chronicle, which managed to get a whole column out of this.

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Gardner Campbell, J. Alfred Prufrock, & the Ecologies of Yearning
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, October 18, 2012.

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As is so often the case, there's something at the core that is right with this post, and something more near the surface that needs to be corrected. At the core, there's this, summarized from a Gardner Campbell talk: "It’s not so much the what we learn but the how and the who with and the why we do so... it’s not so much about 'open' as an adjective to describe education; rather it's 'opening' as a verb to describe what we must do." Quite so: the value is in the sharing, not (typically) in what is shared. But then there's the surface feature: "Jam. (And that requires others -- a community, a network -- in turn.)" Well - no. You are the network. You can share with nobody and still learn. I frequently run Ed Radio live, with my best FM voice, to an audience of zero listeners. I posted my newsletter articles to an unread website for three years (1998-2001) before sharing them by email. Yes, feedback is important, and yes, feedback helps you learn. But sometimes, time distance and nature provide you with all the feedback you need. You don't have to have a community - not to learn, at least. (Image: Ecology of Yearning [visual notes] @gardnercampbell keynote #opened12 giulia.forsythe)

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Networks, Online Learning, Newsletters]

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PBL? Am I Doing it Right?
Peter Skillen, 21st Century Fluency Project, October 18, 2012.

I remember commenting quite critically on the sliders Jay Cross used to illustrate degrees of formal and informal learning; my objection was that they suggested a compromise position could be reached in what was essentially an on-off factor (for example, when student need and institutional goals contradict, either student or institution wins; there is no middle way). But the diagram was useful in illustrating that the definition of 'informal' is multi-facted; there isn't this thing, 'informal', that you could measure. The same criticism, and the same observation, holds of this slider-model of problem-based learning. PBL isn't jut one thing; it's a set of methods and assumptions, each of which may be necessary for full problem based learning.

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Effects of Inequality and Poverty vs. Teachers and Schooling on America’s Youth
David C. Berliner, David C. Berliner, October 18, 2012.

Longish research-based paper that makes a point many of us have been making for years (though it falls on deaf ears): "the best way to improve America’s schools is through jobs that provide families living wages. Other programs are noted that offer some help for students from poor families. But in the end, it is inequality in income and the poverty that accompanies such inequality, that matters most for education."

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

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EdCamps: Take Control and Energize Your Learning!
Kimberly, I Heart Ed Tech, October 17, 2012.

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I remember not so long ago when they were called 'educamps' and people gave credit to people like Nancy White and Diego Leal for inventing them. Now they've been renamed and made by the same crowd that brings you the rest of the reprocessed stuff, mostly in the U.S. Just saying. Now years later there's an EdCamp foundation. Created by "a group of passionate Philadelphia educators" who met at a BarCamp. "We had to find a way to make this happen for K-12 educators," they write. "So, seven months later, in May 2010, we did. Edcamp Philly was born. Little did we know that we would eventually inspire countless educators – even internationally – to do the same for their communities."

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Ed Radio Show Notes, October 18, 2012

Ed Radio, October 18:

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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