OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 5, 2012

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The Year of the MOOC
Laura Pappano, New York Times, November 5, 2012.

The New York Times ran a large spread on the MOOC over the weeke-end which I suppose I should mention here, though I don't know why I bother. After all, the main point of this article is to tell us that "Coursera, Udacity and edX are defining the form as they develop their brands." I don't think they are. I see them commercializing and playing the media, but I don't see them defining anything new. Perhaps that's just my perspective; no doubt what is commonplace to me amazes NY Times readers.

But I'll say it here and leave it for now: "Almost 3K words in this NYT piece on MOOCs, but couldn’t spare a single one to mention Siemens, Downes, Couros, Cormier… Did you recognize any of those names? They’re the people who actually invented massive open online courses (MOOCs)". So why rewrite the history of MOOCs? Greg Wilson writes that it's because we, the inventors of MOOCs, "take the 'open' part of 'MOOC' seriously [and] actually want to let the people who are learning decide what to learn... That makes their experiments a lot less interesting to 'the World’s Business Leaders' than the Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, and other pseudo-MOOCs that let you watch professors chosen by someone else." Yeah, I'd be upset, but these days, I'm simply happy to be employed.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Traditional and Online Courses, Online Learning]

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Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves
David Talbot , MIT Technology Review, November 5, 2012.

You need to be a bit sceptical reading a site like Technology Review (or any of the popular reviews) but the headline was intriguing, and it seemed to replicate Sugata Mitra's experience. Proponent Nicholas Negroponte describes it: "I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android." Negroponte said. What's most interesting is this: "The idea of dropping off tablets outside of the context of schools is a new paradigm for OLPC." Maybe what we need is to get the idea that education using computers is different.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Experience, Paradigm Shift]

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So Let’s Start An #eduhistory Book Club, Then?
Bud Hunt, Bud the Teacher, November 5, 2012.

"The more I dig back, too, into history, or, at least, the stuff that was written in the past on many of the issues facing us as educators right now," writes Bud Hunt, "the more I’m certain that time spent reading the work of before is worth doing." Quite so, and that's why I'm all in favour of his proposal, as the title suggests, to "start an #eduhistory book club." The first text he recommends is the Committee of Ten Report, published in 1893, recommending courses of study for American students (beginning, of course, with Latin and Greek (though lamenting (p. 80) that so few colleges recommend through rntrance exams the reading by sight of Greek texts)). You can see the reasoning - this is the text that defined, if not the exact curriculum, then at least the idea of curriculum, in U.S. education. Though one wonders why a history course wouldn't begin with earlier works, such as Rousseau's 1762 work Emile or perhaps Horace Mann's 1855 Lectures on Education. Then again, as Audrey Watters notes, it's better than "Sal Khan’s History of Education that leaves out the entire twentieth century and the contributions of progressive education."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, United States, Assessment]

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Business Model Innovation Matters
Alex Osterwalder, Slideshare, November 5, 2012.

Interesting presentation I picked up on today from this post (inappropriate metaphor warning). Alex Osterwalder's main point is to undermine the traditional business planning process and focus more on business model innovation. In the first half of the presentation he offers a series of examples of disruptive business models, and in the second half he expands on the 'canvas' methodology (it strikes me as being something like a rapid prototyping or agile method of business planning). Anyhow, I thought I'd include this slide show today because I used in a blog post.

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The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years
Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review, November 4, 2012.

"Online learning will be the most important innovation in education in the last 200 years," says Antonio Regalado, if MOOCs succeed and create something truly different. Me, I'm wondering what he thinks happened 200 years ago that was equally important. But I digress. "Even though only a small fraction of those will actually complete a class, the rise of the MOOCs means we can begin thinking about how free, top-quality education could change the world." Actually, we have been thinking about it for some number of years. But it's nice to have the rest of the world join us.

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

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Flat World Knowledge to Drop Free Access to Textbooks
Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 4, 2012.

Flat World Knowledge, once widely-known for free and open access textbooks, will now be charging access fees, according to the Chronicle. The change was first reported by Campus Marketplace. “While free access goes away, our mission to be fair and affordable remains as strong as ever,” said Flat World CEO Jeff Shelstad. Accoding to the Chronicle report, most affiliated institutions and authors are in support of the move. Observers - including me - are more sceptical. As I commented on the Chronicle article, we now see why the people at Flat World so vehemently argued against the use of the Creative Commons non-commercial tag.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Access]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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